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What's On In London In October 2016
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What's On In London In October 2016

Picture of Harriet Clugston
Updated: 23 November 2016
Though the weather starts to turn cold, the month of October turns up the cultural heat in London, with a series of events whose arrival is anticipated year-round. This month we have for you the hottest festivals, from the London Film Festival to Bloomsbury, best art fairs, most exciting exhibition openings, and even some early Christmas cheer!


'The Birth of a Nation', Dir. by Nat Turner|©Mandalay Pictures/BFI / 'Living in the end Times' at London Literature Festival 2016|Image courtesy of the Southbank Centre / Image courtesy of The Incredibly Strange Film Band / Patrizio di Massimo, 'PDM', 2015| I,age courtesy of Frieze London
‘The Birth of a Nation’, Dir. by Nat Turner | ©Mandalay Pictures/BFI / 'Living in the end Times' at London Literature Festival 2016|Image courtesy of the Southbank Centre / Image courtesy of The Incredibly Strange Film Band / Patrizio di Massimo, 'PDM', 2015| I,age courtesy of Frieze London

ART | The Guerrilla Girls At The Whitechapel Gallery

📅 Saturday 1st October 2016 – Sunday 5th March 2017

Commissioned by the Whitechapel Gallery, anonymous, feminist, activist group the Guerrilla Girls have spent the summer scrutinising the diversity of collections at over 400 European Galleries, seeking to discover whether things have gotten better since their ‘It’s Even Worse In Europe’ graphic in the 80s. This autumn, results from the project will be presented at the gallery, while archival research and production materials used by the group will also be on display, followed by a lecture on the first of the month.

Various prices

📍Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX, +44 20 7522 7888

FILM | Celebrate The Versatility Of Black Actors At The London Film Festival

📅 Wednesday 5th October – Sunday 16th October

One of the world’s premier film festivals, the 60th BFI London Film Festival has diversity at its core. In anticipation of the BFI’s upcoming Black Stars project, extraordinary and powerful black stories feature prominently among the exciting lineup, which is made up of 193 fiction and 52 documentary features. Some of the top picks at this year’s BFI include the European premieres of A United Kingdom, Free Fire, Snowden and American Honey, the latest from the Queen of British cinema, Andrea Arnold.

Various prices


LITERATURE | Sci-Fi At The London Literature Festival

📅 Wednesday 5th October – Sunday 16th October

Back for its tenth year, the Southbank Centre’s London Literature Festival will be exploring the theme ‘Living in Future Times’. From rediscovered classics to contemporary up-and-comers, the festival will be celebrating literature’s most visionary voices. Highlights include readings and discussions to mark HG Wells’ 150th birthday, a screening of Louis Theroux’s My Scientology Movie with Q&A, Margaret Atwood launching her new novel Hag-Seed, and an evening of conversation with this year’s shortlisted Man Booker authors.

Free – various

📍Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX, +44 20 7960 4200

ART | Revel In The Digital Art Revolution At The Moniker Art Fair

📅 Thursday 6th October – Sunday 9th October

Boundary-pushing champion of contemporary urban art, the Moniker Art Fair is back for its seventh year but with an unconventional digital twist, this is an art fair not as you’ve known it before. Emphasising interactivity and play, this year’s fair will embrace the digital age, using technology to encourage audiences to participate in installations. Landmark works include Digital Playground (a colourful, 3D, climbable playground) and Virtual Awakening, which will use 360° photography to subject viewers to an afterlife experience.


📍The Old Truman Brewery, 85 Brick Lane, E1 6QL, +44 207 770 6000

ART | Art From Across The World At The Frieze Art Fair

📅 Thursday 6th October – Sunday 9th October

Heavyweights in the London art calendar, Frieze London and Frieze Masters return to Regent’s Park a week earlier this year, bringing together works from over 160 of the world’s leading galleries. Centre stage in Frieze London (the capital’s biggest contemporary art festival) is ‘The Nineties’, a new section recreating seminal exhibitions from the age and a presentation by Gypsum Gallery, the first Egyptian gallery to participate, while sister fair Frieze Masters will showcase works from antiquity to the 20th century.

Various prices

📍Regent’s Park, Chester Road, NW1 4NR

MUSIC | The Incredibly Strange Film Band

📅 Friday 7th October

What’s better than a night of live film and television themes? Nothing, that’s what. Praise be, then, to The Incredibly Strange Film Band, who specialise in just that. Formed all the way back in 1993, this nine-piece group counts members of Hot Chocolate and Bad Manners among its lineup, taking to the stage in garish getup to deliver a roster of screen favourites from the 60s to the present, from Starsky and Hutch to Mission Impossible.


📍Downstairs at the King’s Head, Crouch End, N8 8AA, +44 20 8340 1028


ART | The Legacy Of Caravaggio At The National Gallery

📅 Wednesday 12th October 2016 – Sunday 15th January 2017

The first major UK exhibition to explore the wide-reaching influence of Italian titan Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, the National Gallery will bring together major works by Caravaggio and his contemporaries across Europe to examine the Caravaggism phenomenon that swept the continent following the artist’s major successes. Typified by dramatic lighting, physical and emotional realism, and a strong pictorial narrative, Caravaggio’s highly original, frequently emulated paintings had a deep and lasting impact on European art, laying the groundwork for the Baroque and beyond.


📍National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN, +44 20 7747 2885

FASHION | The Barbican’s Showcase Of Fashionable Vulgarity

📅 Thursday 13th October 2016 – Sunday 5th February 2017

Drawing on literary definitions as its starting point, this fascinating exhibition at the Barbican will weave together a genealogy of the highly fluid, evolving notion of what constitutes vulgarity in fashion. Encompassing over 120 exhibits from the Renaissance through to the present day, The Vulgar will visualise the process by which fashion integrally reconstitutes and redefines notions of taste in its pursuit of expression. Expect to see stunning pieces from the likes of Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Stephen Jones and many more.


📍Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS,+44 20 7638 4141

FOOD | The Chocolate Show

📅 Friday 14th October – Sunday 16th October

London is a great city for chocolate lovers at the best of times, but during Chocolate Week (yes, seven whole chocolate days) there’s no other place to be. The week culminates with The Chocolate Show, back in a big way for its fourth instalment. Get ready for chocolate in every form imaginable: bars, truffles, baked goods, ice creams, cocktails and sculptures, with hands-on workshops, tastings, shopping, masterclasses and live demonstrations. There’s even a chocolate fashion show complete with ‘couture chocolate dresses’. We’re there!


📍Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, W14 8UX, +44 20 7385 1200

FESTIVAL | Diwali In Trafalgar Square

📅 Sunday 16th October

Popping up once a year this free Diwali festival, presented by the Mayor of London in partnership with the Diwali in London committee, attracts thousands of Londoners in celebration of the festival of lights in the Hindu, Sikh and Jain traditions. Trafalgar Square is taken over by the sounds, flavours and colours of India, with live performances, crafts, food and family activities from henna painting to sari tying.


📍 Trafalgar Square,Westminster, WC2N 5DN


Hothead by PA-Boom at Bloomsbury Festival| Frieda Eichhorn/Bloomsbury Festival / Image courtesy of Cecil Sharp House / Image courtesy of VegFest UK / Brompton Cemetery|©Jeremy Weate/Flickr
Hothead by PA-Boom at Bloomsbury Festival | Frieda Eichhorn/Bloomsbury Festival / Image courtesy of Cecil Sharp House / Image courtesy of VegFest UK / Brompton Cemetery|©Jeremy Weate/Flickr

FESTIVAL | Celebrate The Creativity Of Science And Art At The Bloomsbury Festival

📅 Wednesday 19th October – Sunday 23rd October

Once a year, the institutions, streets and parks of the academic and creative hotbed that is Bloomsbury come alive with the Bloomsbury Festival, a five-day celebration of science, culture and the arts. Over 130 events make up the festival, with talks, walks, tours, classical concerts, contemporary music, open mic poetry, dance, film and installations, all engaged in an exploration of this year’s central theme of Language, in all its forms.


📍 Various

ART | Judith Burrows At Cecil Sharp House

📅 Wednesday 19th October – Sunday 22nd January 2017

Featuring the large-scale portraits and canvasses of the award-winning painter, filmmaker and photographer Judith Burrows, this Cecil Sharp exhibition will examine the artist’s nuanced relationship to place within her paintings and, by extension, the ways in which we each relate to our surroundings. Multi-textured and blending disciplines into one, her images are worked over with music score and text. Burrows’ works are a masterclass in the development of multiple narratives within the confines of one image.

📍Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regent’s Pak Road, NW1 7AY, +44 20 7485 2206

FOOD | VegFest UK

📅 Saturday 22nd October – Sunday 23rd October

There’s no turning back now — London is firmly on the ‘Go Vegan’ bandwagon. This October, VegFest UK, one of Europe’s key vegan festivals, is rolling into town with over 12,000 hungry animal lovers set to descend on the Olympia Centre for a two-day-long, planet-friendly bonanza with over 250 stalls of vegan food, cosmetics and fashion, alongside a vegan athlete summit, high-profile speakers, health summits, conferences, live music and demos.

£12 Advance, £15 OTD

📍Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, W14 8UX, +44 +44 20 7385 1200

MUSIC | A Candlelit Concert In The Cemetery

📅 Saturday 22nd October – Sunday 23rd October

Celebrating London’s Month of the Dead with suitable macabre flair, ‘A Curious Invitation’ invites Londoners to Brompton Cemetery for an eery, candlelit concert among the tombs and gravestones. Baritone Oskar McCarthy and pianist Rob Keeley collaborate in the resurrection of Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s highly-lauded, ghoulish song cycle, Songs and Dances of Death, composed during a particularly morose period in his short life.


📍 Brompton Cemetry, Fulham Rd, London SW10 9UG


MUSIC | Soak Up The Magic Of Bowie with Lazarus

📅 Tuesday 25th October 2016 – Sunday 22nd January 2017

Having premiered in the last month of David Bowie’s life, the musical icon’s final work is coming to London. The sequel to the London-born star’s cult classic film The Man Who Fell to Earth, Lazarus was co-written by Bowie and Enda Walsh. Typically surreal yet stupendous, Lazarus tells the story of an alien man trapped on planet earth, unable to die, and is built around tracks from across Bowie’s career. Olivier-nominated actress Amy Lennox joins members of the original cast for the King’s Cross transfer.


📍 King’s Cross Theatre, Goods Way, N1C 4UR

THEATRE | Catch A Labour MP’s Return To The Stage In King Lear

📅 Tuesday 25th October – Friday 2nd December

Glenda Jackson’s career path is up there among the most bizarre of them. An Academy Award-winning actress from the 50s to the 70s, she left acting to pursue a career in politics. Now, after retiring as a Labour MP in 2015, the 80-year-old is returning to the stage as the fateful eponymous monarch in the Old Vic’s production of King Lear, one of Shakespeare’s greatest and most enduring tragedies.


📍The Old Vic, The Cut, SE1 8NB,

MUSIC | BluesFest

📅 Friday 28th October – Sunday 30th October

Mick Hucknall, Maxwell, Mary J. Blige, Bob Geldof, Jeff Beck, Van Morrison — these are some of the massive names counted among the line-up of this year’s BluesFest, the annual celebration of blues and soul legends at the O2. This year, the opening day sees a special musical gala for the 80th birthday of The Rolling Stones’ bassist Bill Wyman. Many more names are yet to be announced in what promises to be a fantastic three days of blues, soul, jazz, gospel and classic rock and roll.

Various prices

📍 The O2, Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX, +44 20 8463 2000

FESTIVAL | London ComicCon

📅 Friday 28th October – Sunday 30th October

Dig out your geeky glad rags London, CM ComicCon is back in town. Bringing together the world of movies, gaming, comics, anime and technology, this three-day extravaganza draws fanboys and girls from miles around — 120,000 of them last year! The UK’s biggest, modern pop-culture convention, the cavernous Excel Centre is taken over by colourful cosplay, eSports, dealer stalls, a Comic Village filled with some of the top names in comic creation and exciting celebrity appearances.


📍Excel London, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, London E16 1XL, +44 20 7069 5000

MUSIC | Indie Music Inside An East London Church

📅 Saturday 29th October

One of London’s newest and best-received festivals, Mirrors is back in Hackney for its second year, filling four great venues with the sounds of indie music. Hear the smoky notes of Mercury Award-nominated headliner, Bat For Lashes, floating ethereally around the Round Chapel, or catch the likes of Bill Ryder-Jones, Swimming Tapes, Diarrhea Planet, Allah-Las and F*cked Up over the course of one jam-packed day.


📍Various locations in Hackney

FESTIVAL | Spirit of Christmas

📅 Monday 31st October – Sunday 6th November

Get on that Christmas vibe early with a trip to the Spirit of Christmas, coming to West London at the end of the month. For one week, London Olympia will be filled with beautiful booths from over 750 independent boutiques, giving eager gift seekers a head start, with complimentary Christmas workshops, a luxury travel fair, winter restaurants and champagne bars.


📍Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, W14 8UX, +44 20 7385 1200